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Today marks the launch of Kato Teams, a business-focused chat service. It’s worth noting all the functions you can get out of Kato Teams for free.

Companies can sign up as many users as they want, search messages without limits, share screens, get support, and do security audits — all without charge. However, the premium version of the service gets you single-sign on with integration into Active Directory and Google Apps, as well as management of multiple organizations in on place. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that free version is robust.

The choice to pack multiple capabilities into the free version puts Kato on par with other cloud software companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Trello, which coax users into adoption in the hopes of picking up revenue down the line.

At the same time, Kato’s web-based app acknowledges the stiff competition in the chat-for-business market. There’s VMware-owned Socialcast, Microsoft-owned Yammer, Atlassian-owned HipChat, Campfire, Convo, Cotap, and more. And many Google Apps customers use Google’s chat function.

Sure, the Oakland, Ca.-based company has some nifty features unto itself, like the ability to ignore or watch certain chat threads with the cleverly named “noise control” menu. However, Kato isn’t the only startup with a web-based chat app for desktop and mobile. But well-rounded free software that encourages adoption could lead to good, solid revenue and increasing market share.

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